The Public Lands Modernization Amendment Act will direct some revenues to be reinvested into rangeland initiatives
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s provincial government is introducing a bill to modernize the rent and fees ranchers pay to use Crown land.
On Tuesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon introduced Bill 16: The Public Lands Modernization Amendment Act. If passed, the bill will, over a five-year period, update regulations that have been stagnant since 1994.
Part of the bill includes putting the fee structure more in line with market conditions, meaning fees will increase or decrease based on how markets are performing. The legislation also includes measures to reduce red tape when transferring a lease.
“Ranchers are an important part of our province, and the government is listening to their needs,” Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s ag minister, said in an Oct. 15 release. “We’re committed to cutting regulatory red tape to make their jobs easier.”
The trade-off for increased fees is that the provincial government will reinvest some of the revenues into rangeland sustainability initiatives.
“There’s going to be some sort of sustainability fund for improvements on the land,” Charlie Christie, chair of Alberta Beef Producers, told Farms.com.
The government will collect a minimum of $2.5 million in annual revenue from the leases. And 30 per cent of any revenue exceeding $2.9 million will go into that fund.
Another benefit for the industry is that is minimizes the chances of a trade action with global trading partners.
“Any kind of countervailing concerns are gone once we can demonstrate that (the fee structures) are tied to market prices and that it isn’t a subsidy,” Christie said.
Alberta has issued about 6,500 grazing leases in the province, covering more than six million acres of Crown land.